The Department of Commerce says an estimated one in 20 Minnesotans has at least $100 to claim from the state, and a its new system should fast-track those unclaimed property recoveries.
This year alone the Commerce Department helped 7,200 Minnesotans reclaim $19 million in missing money from bank accounts, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, unclaimed paychecks and other real property and financial assets -- a 13 percent improvement over 2011.
"Since 2005, the department has helped more than 84,000 Minnesotans find $163 million that may otherwise have gone missing indefinitely," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "We estimate that one out of every twenty Minnesotans has at least $100 currently being held by the State of Minnesota. Our message to Minnesota consumers is simple: this could be your money, come and claim it."
The Commerce Department said Lakeville resident Rick Masloski is a perfect example of a program beneficiary. His father passed away 19 years ago, leaving behind more than $1,300 in unclaimed stock shares that Masloski was searching for but could not find. With the state's help, he was able to find, claim, and cash-out the shares, which were rightfully his.
The Commerce Department has increased the efficiency of property claims through its website. The "FastTrack" system will expedite the process for consumers with smaller claims.
Minnesota's online look-up functions on MissingMoney.com have been enhanced to include behind-the-scene validation tools for certain claims which will substantially reduce the time it takes to return unclaimed property to Minnesota consumers.
Minnesota is one of ten states in the nation that is using this technology.
"We expect that up to 72 percent of all outstanding claims may be resolved more quickly by using this new software enhancement, and the time we save on these smaller claims will help our staff more efficiently meet the needs of other Minnesota consumers," Rothman said.
Where does unclaimed property come from?
When a financial asset or real property appears to be abandoned, state law requires life insurance companies, banks, and corporations to try contacting the owner of the property. If the owner fails to respond, the property is deemed abandoned and the holder must include the property in its annual unclaimed property report to the Department of Commerce.
How much do financial institutions turn over?
In 2012, financial institutions turned over $61 million in financial assets to the Commerce Department. That's a $4.5 million increase over the previous year, thanks in large part to Commissioner Rothman's efforts to ramp up the Department's audit team. Four new staff members, approved by the legislature in 2011, have been brought on to help ensure financial institutions are complying with the state's unclaimed property laws.
How can I search for my unclaimed property?
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has updated its website to make it easier for Minnesotans to search for unclaimed property. Consumers can quickly type in their names, or the names of their loved ones, to complete a fast search of the nationwide MissingMoney.com database. Consumers who have questions or need assistance can contact the Unclaimed Property Unit by phone at (800) 925-5668 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org